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This website is in imminent danger of being shut down. It has been online since 1995, but the personal circumstances of the owner, Malcolm Farnsworth, are such that economies have to be made. Server costs and suchlike have become prohibitive. At the urging of people online, I have agreed to see if Patreon provides a solution. More information is available at the Patreon website. If you are able to contribute even $1.00/month to keep the site running, please click the Patreon button below.

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The March of Political Time

“For the times ahead” was the Victorian ALP’s slogan for last Saturday’s election. This week, if John Brumby is to be believed, the march of time defeated the 11-year-old government he led for the last three.

The March Of Political TimeIt’s odd to hear politicians and commentators talk now of the natural inevitability of a 10-year cycle for governments. True, there is a pattern of sorts since the 1980s where governments struggle to survive into a second decade. But the vast bulk of Australia’s political life since Federation is characterised by governments of remarkable longevity.

For example, on this day, December 2, in 1972, Gough Whitlam brought to an end twenty-three years of coalition rule in Canberra. Seventeen years later, in 1989, and also on December 2, Wayne Goss defeated the National Party government which had ruled Queensland with brutal certainty for thirty-two years.

The coalition’s long dominance federally between 1949 and 1972 is the most remembered example of political staying power. But the Liberals in Victoria ruled for an even longer 27 years until 1982, bookended by Labor governments led by John Cain snr and John Cain jnr. Labor has governed Victoria for 21 of the past 28 years. [Read more…]

Lindsay Tanner in Conversation with George Megalogenis

The former Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner, in a rare public appearance since his retirement from politics, has discussed recent political events.

Tanner was appearing at the Wheeler Centre with George Megalogenis, author of the latest Quarterly Essay, Trivial Pursuit. [Read more…]

History Is Written By The Winners

This time last year, Kevin Rudd still had seven months left as Prime Minister and Malcolm Turnbull had nearly a fortnight before he lost the Liberal leadership.

Rudd-GillardA lot has happened since.

By any measure, it has been a big political year. The rise of Tony Abbott and the dumping of Rudd book-end a remarkable period in Australian politics. The ascent of Julia Gillard is a mere five months old. The inconclusive election that produced a minority government took place just three months ago this weekend.

It is surely too soon to write the definitive history of this period but it’s being written anyway.

One account, “The Party Thieves”, has been written by the ABC’s Barrie Cassidy. Another, “Confessions of a Faceless Man”, has been penned in diary form by Paul Howes, head of the Australian Workers’ Union.

There’s remarkable agreement between these two about what happened. [Read more…]

Brian Loughnane Analyses Result Of 2010 Federal Election

The Labor government’s electoral decline began in 2008 and continued under Julia Gillard, according the Liberal Party’s Federal Director, Brian Loughnan.

Addressing the National Press Club in Canberra, Loughnane claimed that despite the difficulty of unseating a first-term government with all the advantages of incumbency, Tony Abbott’s “decisive leadership” made the party competitive throughout the election. [Read more…]

Karl Bitar Analyses Result Of 2010 Federal Election (Sort Of…)

Leaks and Mark Latham were primarily responsible for the ALP’s near-miss in the 2010 election, according to the ALP National Secretary, Karl Bitar.

Addressing the National Press Club in Canberra, Bitar said a belief that Labor would win the election, combined with disillusionment about the government’s performance, also contributed to the ALP’s campaign problems. [Read more…]

Giving Substance To The Words

There are thirty-two new members of the 43rd Parliament, elected on August 21st. Three of them are returning after a voluntary or enforced absence. As a group, they constitute one-fifth of the House of Representatives, a significant turnover and renewal of the lower house. Many of them will be there for years to come.

Maiden SpeechesOver the past month, I have made a point of watching the maiden, or first, speeches of these members. On the whole, it is difficult not to be impressed by these fledgling parliamentarians.

There has been much comment on the moving speech from the Western Australian Liberal, Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous member of the House, but others also delivered considered and thoughtful speeches.

Take Andrew Leigh, the member for Fraser in the ACT. His reputation as an economist and thinker preceded his election. In his speech, he spoke of the importance of education for the nation’s future, of “optimistic experimentation” and of rebuilding “a sense of trust between citizens and politicians”. Leigh’s book, “Disconnected”, has just been published. [Read more…]

Election Funding Payments: 2010 Federal Election

This table shows the election funding payments made to political parties and candidates following the 2010 federal election.

A candidate or Senate group needs four per cent of the primary vote to be eligible for election funding. The amount is calculated by multiplying the number of votes obtained by the current funding rate.

The funding rate for the 2010 election was 231.191 cents per House of Representatives and Senate vote. The rate is indexed every six months to increases in the Consumer Price Index.

Just over $53 million was distributed to parties and candidates. [Read more…]

Kennett Savages Senator Helen Kroger Over Green Preferences

Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett has savaged Liberal Senator Helen Kroger over her criticism of the party’s practice of preferencing the Greens ahead of Labor.

Kennett’s attack comes just one month before the state election. The preference debate within the Liberal Party has been gathering momentum since the August 21 federal election where Liberal preferences in Melbourne delivered the seat to the Greens.

Some Liberals argue that the party should negotiate preference agreements with the Greens on the basis that Labor is the party’s real enemy. Others claim that the Liberals should not be assisting the Greens to win seats because Green policies are fundamentally hostile to Liberal Party philosophy. [Read more…]

Is It Time For The Liberals To Dispose Of Abbott?

Tony Abbott is the 32nd man to have served as federal opposition leader. Only 16 of his predecessors ever made it to the prime ministership.

AbbottSome of those opposition leaders got two chances to fight an election. Only Evatt and Calwell were given three but neither succeeded.

Of 15 opposition leaders over the past 35 years, only Fraser, Hawke and Rudd won office on their first electoral outing. Kim Beazley was given two consecutive opportunities but failed at both. Hayden, Peacock, Howard, Hewson and Latham all fought one losing election and then lost the leadership before the next.

Peacock and Howard both won back the Liberal Party leadership but only the very persistent Howard (like Menzies before him) avenged his earlier defeat.

Recent omens are even worse for opposition leaders. In the past decade, three party leaders (Crean, Nelson and Turnbull) were knocked off before they fought even one election. Kim Beazley, returned for a second stint as leader, was also deposed before facing the electorate. [Read more…]

The Real Julia: Is That It?

The Real Julia was much talked about during the recent election campaign. It was a conversation initiated by Gillard herself. She offered the view that if only she could be left to be herself we would have a political leader of whom we could be proud.

The Real JuliaOf course, The Real Julia campaign collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions.

At the same time, many commented on the discipline shown by Tony Abbott. The Real Tony had been mugged by the campaign managers, it was alleged.

I have a more prosaic view. I believe we did see The Real Julia and The Real Tony throughout the election.

An election campaign is a period of immense concentrated activity, much of it artificial and simply silly. Nevertheless, it’s one of those times when the real nature of a political leader is hard to disguise. It tends to seep through the countless television and radio interviews. It’s seen in their reaction to pressure and in their contact with voters, no matter how stage-managed. [Read more…]